Association for Computing Machinery
Timely Topics for IT Professionals

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ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either HP or ACM.

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Volume 5, Issue 557:  Monday, October 13, 2003

  • "Shift-Key Case Rouses DMCA Foes"
    Wired News (10/11/03); Dean, Katie

    SunnComm Technologies' threat to sue a Princeton University student for publishing a method to circumvent CD anti-copying technology has become a rallying cry for opponents of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). SunnComm accused Ph.D. student John Halderman of violating the DMCA after he posted on his Web site that the MediaMax CD-3 copy protection software on a music CD could be bypassed by hitting the Shift key while the disc is being loaded into the computer's hard drive. SunnComm's stock fell 25 percent shortly after the bypass was published on Oct. 8, and the company announced plans to sue Halderman under the DMCA on the following day. DMCA critics point to the case as an example of the law's unforeseen fallout, and claim the law is exceeding its authority and chilling legitimate academic research. "If no one is allowed to examine and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these technologies, then these technologies will not improve," asserts Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Fred von Lohmann, adding that Rep. Rick Boucher's (D-Va.) Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act is designed to address this issue. Under Boucher's legislation, copy-protection technology could be bypassed for scientific research and other fair-use purposes. SunnComm withdrew its threat to sue Halderman on Oct. 10, when CEO Peter Jacobs said, "I don't want to represent a company that would do anything to cause any kind of chilling effect to research."
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  • "Technologists Predict Bold Innovations for Valley"
    SiliconValley.com (10/13/03); Langberg, Mike

    Future technological advancements that could transform society and raise Silicon Valley up from its economic doldrums were the subject of the Silicon Valley 4.0 conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., on Oct. 7. Innovations predicted at the conference included ubiquitous wireless: SRI International think tank president Curt Carlson proclaimed that concurrent breakthroughs in speech recognition, smooth networking, and longer-life batteries will yield mobile devices that will become as essential to people as wallets, while wireless analyst Gerry Purdy forecast that future devices will be compatible with all available wireless networks and capable of automatically retrieving desired information. Speech recognition will prove vital because people are uncomfortable with miniature keypads on handhelds. Entrepreneur and Packet Design Chairman Judy Estrin anticipated the launch of a "phenomenal cycle" with the advent of embedded computers in approximately five years. She also expects the creation of massive networks that will monitor traffic, the environment, and many other things when embedded computers and sensors are linked. Estrin explained that Silicon Valley can only meet this challenge by developing a way to design small, low-power computers. Jeff Hawkins of Handspring reported that neuroscience researchers are close to understanding how the brain creates and comprehends human speech, and added that the replication of these processes in silicon chips will spur a "totally unexpected" computing revolution. Biological engineering was also a topic of discussion, with Geoffrey Moore of Mohr Davidow Ventures noting that his company is investing in businesses focused on the design of medical monitoring chips.
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  • "Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants"
    Washington Post (10/13/03) P. A1; Weiss, Rick

    Duke University researchers have successfully wired a monkey's brain to a robotic limb, allowing the simian to control the artificial arm by thought; such a breakthrough could help pave the way for similar systems that enable paralyzed people to manipulate objects or operate machinery, or even reanimate their own paralyzed limbs. Another potential application of this technology is remote, thought-based control of robots on battlefields or in other hostile environments. The project takes the neural control of objects out of the virtual realm--characterized by earlier experiments in which the animal could only move a cursor on a computer screen by thought, for instance--and into the physical domain. Electrodes are implanted under the monkeys' skulls and linked by wires to a computer, which is in turn wired to the robotic arm. The monkeys were trained to move the arm with a joystick while watching their progress on a video monitor; the computer interpreted their electrical patterns as commands. Then the animals were weaned off the joystick and they became adept at manipulating the arm by thought alone. "It's quite plausible that the perception is you're extended into the robot arm, or the arm is an extension of you," explains Eberhard E. Fetz of the University of Washington. Duke researcher Miguel A.L. Nicolelis and Brown University neuroscientist John P. Donoghue are seeking permission from the FDA to begin human trials next year, while Nicolelis is working on a wireless version of the thought interface.
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  • "What's Ahead for Databases?"
    InfoWorld (10/09/03); Krill, Paul

    Database industry leaders discussed the future of database technology at the recent Software Development Forum, saying more flexibility was needed and that commoditized database technology would not be able to provide for every need. MySQL co-founder David Axmark, for example, said he personally would not commit important data to a database component of a larger system if he did not know the format. IBM senior product specialist for DB2 Jon Rubin said businesspeople may view the database as a commodity, but IT personnel would never look simply at the upfront cost, and instead focus on long-term issues such as manageability, recoverability, and service-level issues. On the other hand, Kevin Perry of transaction processing firm Inovant said the value of the database resides in the data itself and that some commoditization that allowed for swappable drivers, for example, could be beneficial. In the future, Perry said concepts such as Database Area Network (DAN) would allow for database virtualization and better resource allocation, especially computing cycles. The panelists also noted the upcoming SQL 2003 specification, but said many features in SQL 99 were not widely adopted yet. Rubin commented that the rising popularity of open-source databases was "an important phenomenon" that was not caused so much by demand for ease-of-use, but rather from cost-pressure. Perry said open-source databases lacked the support of an IBM or Oracle product, for instance, though Axmark said MySQL does offer 24/7 support. At least one audience member pressed the panelists on the open-source issue, arguing that a database equivalent to Linux, Apache, and Eclipse was inevitable.
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  • "UBC Researchers Develop Image Software That Makes Panoramas Easy to Create"
    Canadian Press (10/12/03); Mertl, Steve

    As part of his Ph.D. thesis in computer science at the University of British Columbia, 25-year-old Matthew Brown developed AutoStitch Panorama, software that allows a computer to generate photographic panoramas that more accurately reflect what the eye sees using object recognition. Although many digital cameras and photo-imaging programs enable users to patch together a series of images into a panoramic mosaic, they require the photos to be shot in sequence from the same vantage point. AutoStitch can create panoramas from any number of pictures regardless of sequence or camera angle by automatically identifying matching features. Brown's thesis supervisor Professor David Lowe says that with AutoStitch, "you can, for example, build very high-resolution photographs that you could print out and hang on your wall, panoramas that are much more detailed, much higher resolution and cover a much wider viewpoint angle than you could with just an ordinary digital camera." Brown and Lowe are particularly excited about the tool's potential applications for casual photography, while its commercial possibilities for the tourism or real estate industries are self-evident. AutoStitch is an outgrowth of research into computer vision, a field of study attempting to give computers the ability to mimic the visual perceptions of the human brain. Lowe reports that several digital-imaging companies are interested in AutoStitch, which UBC's licensing department is attempting to market. The features Brown uses in AutoStitch have also been patented by Lowe.
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  • "New Diode Could Enable Faster, More Efficient Electronics"
    Newswise (10/10/03)

    Researchers at Ohio State University, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the University of California, Riverside, have designed a new silicon-compatible diode that transmits more electricity than any other kindred device, using physicist Leo Esaki's "interband" tunnel diode as a model. The project was underwritten by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. Ohio State's Paul R. Berger, who helped conceptualize the new diode, notes that industry has long pursued the goal of meshing tunnel diodes with conventional electronics in order to streamline intricate circuits. The new diode, whose electricity conduction rate is triple that of the only comparable silicon tunnel diode, has the potential to simplify chip design while avoiding performance tradeoffs by supplanting some of the circuits on a standard chip. The majority of conventional tunnel diodes are "intraband" diodes that limit the passage of electrons to one energy level within the semiconductor crystal, but Esaki's "interband" diode allows electrons to move back and forth between different energy levels. Berger's team needed to develop a new method to create silicon structures that contain uncommonly large amounts of dopants; silicon and silicon-germanium were layered into a configuration that measured only a few nanometers in height, and the team learned that modifying the thickness of a central "space" layer enabled them to customize the amount of current the material conducted. Berger says the diode could be applied to highly power-consumptive devices that produce radio frequency signals such as cell phones and cordless home phones. Furthermore, the diode could allow physicians to perform remote, non-invasive diagnostic procedures on pacemakers and other implanted devices.
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  • "Gotterbarn Says Developers Should Evaluate Risks Early"
    Computerworld New Zealand (10/10/03); Bell, Stephen

    East Tennessee State University Professor Donald Gotterbarn will give a presentation on mitigating project risk during a New Zealand Computer Society gathering next week. Gotterbarn is a visiting professor at the Auckland University of Technology, where he is pursuing research on software development. Gotterbarn says application developers can produce exceptional functionality, be on time, and stay within budget, but fail to deliver what the user wants or needs if they do not spend enough time addressing user requirements and assessing risk. His beliefs are backed up in a KPMG report on project failure, which focuses on the lack of attention to user requirements in business projects, including IT. Gotterbarn has helped create the software development impact statement (SoDIS), which is designed to identify and quantify risks more effectively; the audit includes taking a single task handled by a system, assessing which stakeholders are likely to be impacted by the task, evaluating the risk, and assessing how to mitigate and monitor the risk. He also helped develop a computer-based application that will lead developers through the SoDIS process, using structured questions and pop-up note facilities. For example, when considering whether to rush testing of a stage using inexperienced staff, the application might generate a "sticky" suggestion such as starting sooner for more knowledgeable testers or extending the testing time frame. Gotterbarn and the KPMG report say preliminary stages are often overlooked because of a lack of resources.
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    Donald Gotterbarn was also the chair of the ACM/IEEE-CS joint task force on Software Engineering and Professional Practices. The committee was responsible for creating the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practices: http://www.acm.org/serving/se/code.htm

  • "Decoding the Subtle Dance of Ordinary Movements"
    New York Times (10/09/03) P. E8; Eisenberg, Anne

    Improved security programs, better analysis of physical ailments, and more realistic computer animation are just some of the potential applications of software that can distinguish people by the way they walk, gesture, and move. New York University's Dr. Christoph Bregler employs a dance floor and a multitude of high-resolution infrared cameras to record people's movement via motion capture--a method often used for special effects, animated films, and video games--as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project. Bregler admits that motion capture cannot record the unique nuances of individual movement, so he uses Laban Movement Analysis, a movement notation system created by Slovak dance theorist and choreographer Rudolf von Laban, to construct a database of motions that are converted to mathematics so that computers can identify them. Though categorizing the fine subtleties of movement still requires the presence of human experts, Bregler predicts that the computer will eventually become capable of doing this by itself. Alex Vasilescu of the N.Y.U. Media Lab is using motion capture to see if a computer can simulate the subtleties of individuals' movements by videotaping a person moving, deducing a mathematical interpretation of the person's general movement style, and then predicting how that person might move under different conditions. Vasilescu has tested her theory by comparing the prediction with a motion-capture version of the person performing the anticipated action. Meanwhile, Norman Badler of the University of Pennsylvania has also embarked on a project to computerize Laban Movement Analysis so that a machine might be able to distinguish between a menacing and capitulating gesture, for instance.
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  • "Old Idea Retooled for Security"
    Technology Research News (10/15/03); Patch, Kimberly

    University of Michigan and Stanford University researchers are separately taking up the idea of virtual computers as a way to bolster the security of computer operating systems. Virtual machines emulate physical machines and make it much harder for attackers to compromise security systems. The Michigan team modified fault tolerance software to log computer operations so that forensic investigation can replay exactly what happened on a computer and repair any damage caused; the logging software, called ReVirt, is run on a lower level than the operating system and applications and cannot be disabled. The operating system and applications are run on a virtual machine, which causes an approximately 30 percent slowdown in system performance and requires 1 GB of disk space. University of Michigan associate professor Peter Chen says ReVirt saves enough information during the replay mode to recreate every detail, including mouse movements and opening and closing windows. At Stanford, researchers' trusted virtual machine monitor (T-VMM) uses a trusted third party to allow only authorized software and communications to pass through, thus ensuring that only authorized computer instructions are executed. Stanford researchers say T-VMM could help extend firewalls to remote-access computers and better safeguard the entire system from intrusion. In addition, the system could monitor and control suspicious network activity, such as that created during denial-of-service attacks.
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  • "Copy That: Xerox Still Heavy on Research"
    Investor's Business Daily (10/13/03) P. A5; Turner, Nick

    Xerox's recent bouts of financial turbulence have not curbed the company's research and development efforts or forced a shift away from the continued pursuit of technological innovation. Five percent to 6 percent of Xerox's revenue is diverted to R&D, as it is with Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and other major tech companies. Among the advanced technologies developed or being developed at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center is Smart Paper, a low-power electronic display outfitted with two-color beads that move around to change the display's image in response to electrical current. Other concepts Xerox is investigating include: Switch-A-View, in which two separate images or designs are printed on the same piece of paper, each of which is visible under specific lighting conditions; GlyphSeals, a technology that could preserve the content of paper documents even when they are damaged by encoding their data within glyphs that are printed on the back; and printed organic electronics, which could reduce manufacturing costs and potentially lead to flexible displays. Xerox has been burned in the past by trying to capitalize on its innovative ideas by spinning off research projects into separate companies, or allowing competitors to benefit from their breakthroughs. Gartner analyst Peter Grant says Xerox's current strategy is to partner with existing businesses. Xerox is not, however, completely averse to spinning off technology, as demonstrated by its establishment of Gyricon to market Smart Paper. As of 2002, Xerox has been awarded some 150,000 patents.

  • "Will Drop in Work Visas Really Help U.S. Tech Force?"
    EarthWeb (10/09/03); Gaudin, Sharon

    The reversion of the H-1B visa cap from 195,000 to 65,000 was praised as a triumph for the American workforce by Connecticut Republican Reps. Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons, but certain industry analysts and IT professionals claim this reduction has come too late. Critics of the H-1B program, which allows approved foreign applicants to work and temporarily reside in the United States, claimed that such applicants are taking jobs away from Americans by their willingness to work for a lower wage. Johnson and Simmons issued a joint statement that the visa cap restriction "will help level the playing field for American workers," but Dr. Norman Matloff of the University of California at Davis doubts that the move will have any significant short-term results: He notes that annual new job openings are currently estimated to be far less than 65,000, and the majority of those new jobs are given to H-1B and L-1 visa holders. Meanwhile, Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller is hopeful that the national economy could start to recover as soon as next year, and calls the assumption that the U.S. technology field is suffering as a result of the H-1B visa holder population "a myth." He further points out that approximately 70,000 H-1Bs were issued in fiscal 2003, less than half the 195,000 annual cap. But Organization for the Rights for the American Worker President John Bauman claims that, taking non-IT jobs into account, the number of H-1Bs issued last year approached 370,000. Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that 2003 IT job cuts total 145,997 so far this year, compared to around 400,000 layoffs lost last year. John Challenger, head of the outplacement firm, says the slowdown in job cuts could be a sign that more jobs will soon be created.
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  • "Right Touch With Computers"
    BBC News (10/09/03)

    European researchers are working to apply acoustic sensing techniques to multimedia applications, in an effort to make the technology more widely available. With acoustic sensing, interacting with an object is made possible because of the sounds that are produced within the object and on its surface. A team of researchers are involved in a project at Cardiff University that seeks to turn walls, windows, and other everyday surfaces into interactive touch screens. The researchers have used the university's Manufacturing Engineering Center to develop Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer Human Interactions (Tai-Chi), technology that would allow someone to tap on a restaurant table to send a meal order direct to the kitchen, or select a product for purchase by pressing on a shop window. Sensors in the touch screens are able to detect the "sound" and send a message to a remote computer. Dr. Ming Yang says such interactive touch screens make up for the shortcomings of current interfaces such as the keyboard and mouse in that users have to be within their reach, as well as voice activated and vision systems, which are still unreliable. The military and industry have put the technology to use, but it has not been tailored for wider use and everyday purposes. The researchers envision acoustic sensing one day being applied to moving hands through the air alone.
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  • "Field Emission Displays Get a Second Wind"
    IEEE Spectrum (10/01/03); Lieberman, David

    The moribund field-emission display (FED) market may get a chance to rise from the ashes as companies embark on the research, development, and prototyping of next-generation FEDs that are free from the flaws that led to their precursors' downfall while delivering both high-quality images and low-cost manufacturing. First-generation FEDs had very limited lifespans because particles and gases got trapped in the displays during their assembly and were released when internal components were exposed to electrons, compromising the interior vacuum and tainting the pixels. Independent product-positioning consultant Tom Holzel contends that most first-generation FED developers followed the wrong strategy in trying to overcome these problems by focusing on semiconductor use when they should have concentrated instead on CRT use. One anonymous former member of Motorola's FED initiative says the effort failed because the company used a flawed business model, and did not take into account "the complexity of developing a new display technology." The resurgence in FEDs is being spearheaded by Motorola, Hitachi, Samsung, Stanley Electric, and a host of major players and startups, with a sizable portion of their R&D efforts investigating the potential of carbon nanotubes. All would-be FED developers insist their displays do not suffer from the first generation's contamination problems, and promise to eventually deliver low-cost mass production of large displays. Printable Field Emitters, Canon, and the Display Lab at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology use FEDs that are assembled from low-cost printing methods, while Matsushita Electric Industrial's display fabrication uses a chiefly electrochemical process. Whether the FED market can truly be revived remains to be seen.
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  • "For Venus and Mars, a Midpoint in Design"
    New York Times (10/09/03) P. E1; Marriott, Michel

    Electronic product design is becoming more unisex so as to appeal to more female customers, as well as customers who take powerful computer engines for granted and instead focus on a device's outward appearance. There are still ultra-feminine and ultra-masculine product designs, such as the portable radio Sony design center director Ellen Glassman says looks like a clutch purse, or the male-oriented Sony MHC-GSX100W designer Justin Jakobson says takes after F-15 fighter jets; but the mainstream of electronics products are going to be designed to appeal to both sexes. Art Center of Design in Pasadena media design chairwoman Brenda Laurel says the Apple iPod is a terrific example of unisex design, which she defines as something males can carry around without having to "feel like a wuss." Nokia chief designer Frank Nuovo says his company's sleek mobile phone designs helped fuel the mobile communications industry in the 1990s, turning peoples' phones into fashion accessories with flashy chrome instead of everyday plastic. However, even today certain Nokia phones are designed with certain sexes in mind, such as the candybar-shaped 3600 with a rounded dial-type phone pad that should appeal to females, and the 6800 fold-out with a bevy of button options and a qwerty keyboard, designed with male users in mind. IBM has long sought out a timeless design with its black, no-nonsense ThinkPad notebooks, which IBM industrial designer Susan Moffatt says has "an air of mystery" similar to that of a woman's black dress. Panasonic optical group vice president Andrew Nelkin says the best designs in the electronics industry no longer target just one sex, but focus on aspects appreciated by both sexes, such as the form factor of Panasonic's new palm-sized digital camcorders.
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  • "VeriSign Didn't Deserve Spanking"
    Business Week (10/07/03); Salkever, Alex

    Citing VeriSign's implementation of the SiteFinder service and the subsequent outcry against SiteFinder by many in the Internet community, Alex Salkever argues that VeriSign's actions do not merit the intense criticism they have received. Although Salkever says VeriSign has earned much of the criticism it has received in recent years, he believes the current controversy puts VeriSign in an unfair light, and asserts that the negative views of the company may be due to its prominent position overseeing ' .com and .net domain names, managing two of the 13 DNS root servers, and acting as the leading provider of digital certificates for Web sites. ICANN pressured VeriSign to shutter SiteFinder on the assertion that the company was not in line with neutrality portions of contracts, and VeriSign ultimately decided to close SiteFinder, while continuing to oppose ICANN's allegations. "In the current case of the redirected error message...VeriSign has gotten something of a bum rap," Salkever argues. The author contends that plenty of other companies have implemented similar services to VeriSign's SiteFinder, and that the service relies on unused domain names--which means VeriSign is not stealing business from others and therefore is not breaching contracts with ICANN. Furthermore, Salkever argues, the spam tools that utilize mistyped domain names are very basic, and successful spammers tend to take advantage of real domain names for the very reason that such names are more difficult to filter. SMTP authentication presents a far better method for addressing spam issues. Salkever concludes by acknowledging that VeriSign certainly is benefiting from SiteFinder and ought to have discussed the service with Internet interests before implementing it, but stands by the assertion that penalizing the company on certain arguments is not logical.
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  • "Agents of Creation"
    Economist (10/09/03) Vol. 369, No. 8345, P. 79

    Researchers and engineers who convened at the first International Workshop on Complex Agent-Based Dynamic Networks in Oxford discussed cutting-edge applications of artificial agents in complex system modeling. Thus far, agents have had the most success at simulating financial markets: MIT's Sanmay Das uses agents to draw insight about the behavior of individual market-makers trying to uncover the "true" value of a share. His study involves the arbitrary assignment of value, while agents are left to figure the value out on their own; imposing a "zero-profit" condition on the agents could enable them to compute the true value, but Das found it less computationally intensive to closely approximate prices resulting from the zero-profit condition, thus permitting market-makers to make money by selling for just a bit more and buying for just a bit less than the equation formulated. Meanwhile, Oxford researcher Janet Efstathiou is using agent-based modeling to determine the disorganization of factories and warehouses, which could ultimately help supply-chain managers boost their efficiency. Efstathiou's research team monitored and recorded the performance of machines and the movement of goods on a factory floor, and compared these observations with what people officially claimed was happening in order to approximate the factory system's mathematical "entropy." Another Oxford researcher, Neil Johnson, is focusing on the use of agents in solving the so-called minority game by predicting the behavior of a system characterized by overcrowding. Johnson is collaborating with NASA to employ such techniques in the modeling of futuristic aircraft wings, and using his method to model the interaction of criminal and paramilitary elements in Colombia.
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  • "Is the GPL Good for the Software Industry?"
    Network World (10/06/03) Vol. 20, No. 40, P. 45; Sontag, Chris; Kuhn, Bradley

    The merits of the General Public License (GPL) used to govern open-source software is open to debate. Arguing that the GPL is harmful, SCO senior vice president Chris Sontag says the GPL is untested legally and could be interpreted in many, sometimes conflicting, ways. In addition, Sontag writes that the GPL robs small commercial developers of the incentive to produce new software innovations. Sontag also believes that the GPL's authors want to "destroy the value of proprietary software," and quotes free software pioneer Richard Stallman as saying, "Proprietary software is antisocial and shouldn't exist." SCO believes the GPL is pre-empted by existing federal copyright law that supercedes any other claims to govern use, distribution, and copying. Sontag concludes by saying that companies are better served to seek out alternative licensing models that do not carry the same risks and liabilities as the GPL. The contrarian view is provided by Free Software Foundation executive director Bradley Kuhn, who says the software industry needs to be freed from proprietary constraints that lock users in a vendor's influence and prevents mutually beneficial knowledge-sharing. Kuhn claims that GPL-licensed software is already destroying that model, to the benefit of the overall user community; software developers are judged in the marketplace according to their expertise in creating effective solutions for customers, providing support, customization, and other important services. Users of GPL software have the ability to quickly modify code, bring projects in-house, and switch contractors at will. Kuhn says software as a discipline should emulate other scientific pursuits, such as physics, mathematics, and psychology, where knowledge-sharing is rewarded and incremental advances spread rapidly through the entire community.
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  • "The Internet Reborn"
    Technology Review (10/03) Vol. 106, No. 8, P. 28; Roush, Wade

    With support from Intel and other major computer industry players, a grass-roots coalition of computer researchers is working on PlanetLab, a next-generation Internet infrastructure that boasts greater security and intelligence. PlanetLab promises to make hard disks and recordable CDs obsolete by enabling users to securely archive all their data across the Internet, allow users to instantly retrieve bandwidth-heavy data regardless of how many other users are vying for the same resources, prevent worm- and virus-related disruptions by identifying and stamping out rogue data packets before they become a serious problem, and facilitate the re-creation of a user's exact computer workspace on any terminal. The PlanetLab coalition is building the network on top of the Internet using smart nodes--standard PCs that can run custom software uploaded by users--and thus far some 175 nodes have been set up around the world, while plans call for 1,000 nodes to be deployed within three years. At the core of PlanetLab is the concept of switching data and computation from desktops and individual mainframes to the network itself, an ability that is beyond the power of the current Internet; smart nodes distributed throughout the world can simultaneously run copies of a single program, and share data with other nodes over the existing Net. Hard-drive space and processing space is divided among PlanetLab users via special software running on each node. Research projects that could play a vital role in PlanetLab's development include Netbait, a program being developed by Intel and the University of California, Berkeley, designed to intercept "probe" packets sent out by worms and viruses, determine their point of origin, and enable administrators to track and perhaps forestall major network epidemics. Another PlanetLab-related project from UC Berkeley is OceanStore, a distributed storage system that aims to make a person's individual data file always available, accessible to only authorized people, and immune to destruction by encrypting and fragmenting those files, and recreating them on smart nodes. The CoDeeN tool developed at Princeton University permits nodes to dedicate "slices" of their resources to a specific program, allowing Web pages to be automatically placed closer in the networks to recipients.
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